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Oyster Mushrooms – The Surprisingly Pretty – and Versatile – Fungi

In the world of edible mushrooms, oyster mushrooms are unique. Members of the genus Pleurotus (an ancient Greek term meaning “side ear”), oyster mushroom cap visually resemble the shell of an oyster. Growing in layered clusters on deciduous hardwood and conifer trees, the individual mushrooms vary in size. These oyster-pale to soft-grey coloured, nearly stalkless edible fungi are aptly named for more than just appearance – perhaps not surprisingly, oyster mushrooms also smell and taste rather like oysters, making these fabulous fungi an excellent (and less expensive) substitute for seafood. In addition, their flavour is slightly sweet, not fishy, so even non-lovers of seafood can enjoy them. The oyster mushroom’s unique flavour and firm, moist texture lends itself well to all types of dishes, as an addition or ingredient substitute.

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Among some of the easiest mushrooms to cultivate, oyster mushrooms are available all year round; however, their peak season is early autumn, and oyster mushroom connoisseurs often wait for this season to enjoy their favourite fungi. It is possible to obtain several large harvests of oyster mushrooms from the same tree within the same season. Easy to spot, oyster mushroom clusters are quite attractive, much like a flower bouquet. As oyster mushrooms are also fragrant, it is tempting to utilise a large cluster of the pretty fungi as a centrepiece prior to creating your delicious oyster mushroom meal!

Oyster mushrooms, one of many wonderful mushrooms available from your local Australian mushroom supplier, provide a subtle flavour to any dish -flavour that doesn’t lose its impact during cooking. The oyster mushroom’s flavour can even sustain itself in baked dishes, such as noodle or rice dishes, and the meat of the oyster mushroom will not become “mushy” during cooking.

When cleaning oyster mushrooms, use very little water, as this species of fungi has naturally high water content, and introducing more water may lead to issues of mould. Carefully clean between the gills, as insects consider these areas prime hiding places, and dry freshly-washed oyster mushrooms gently between paper towels.

Oyster mushrooms should be eaten shortly after harvest, as they do not last long once removed from their host. Should you wish to store oyster mushrooms for any period of time, it is recommended that the mushrooms be dried completely, and then stored in tightly-capped and labelled mason jars.

Oyster mushrooms are rich in vital nutrients, as well as containing no fat or cholesterol, so they are an excellent addition to any diet. Not only are oyster mushrooms beneficial for humans, they’re beneficial for the environment as well. Oyster mushrooms are known to degrade toxins in the environment and assist with wood decomposition – important for natural forest “clean-up”.

Try oyster mushrooms in stews, cioppino, or salads. There are numerous recipes available on the Internet, and your local Australian mushroom supplier can provide information and suggestions on the best ways to use and store oyster mushrooms. Try an oyster mushroom recipe today, and discover a new culinary delight.

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